Ballarat will soon be home to a new one-stop-shop support centre for military veterans.
Born from a partnership between the Vietnam Veterans Association Australia's Ballarat sub-branch, the Military Brotherhood, a military motorcycle club with a local sub-branch, and Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Servicemen and Women's Association of Victoria in Ballarat, the centre is expected to open by October on Barkly Street.
It's billed as a place where current or former service personnel can drop in for a chat with other ex-servicepeople, and if they need help, they can be pointed in the right direction or helped with paperwork for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
We're not the experts in the field, far from it, but we will get the information they needVeteran Greg Green
Already, partnerships are forming with organisations like Legacy, which supports the families of personnel who have died, and Relationships Australia for counselling.
It will provide another option for veterans in Ballarat, as well as the RSL sub-branches, with a particular focus on young personnel - it will be a family-friendly place, and there's already plans to expand with a deck for a barbecue.
According to the Military Brotherhood's Greg Green - or 'Greenie', according to his colours - veterans from Australia's more recent conflicts and peacekeeping missions have different needs, and the centre was a way to point them in the right direction.
"It is specifically for veteran's assistance - no one cares if you've done one or two days, as a reservist - if you've served, you're it," he said.
"Walk in the door and we'll try to help you - it's about supporting ADF members, currently serving and ex-serving, and their families.
"We're not the experts in the field, far from it, but we will get the information they need, or point them to where they can get the information they need."
The centre will be staffed by volunteers, with help from a veteran's advocate based in Ballarat, he added.
The City of Ballarat had invested in bringing the Barkly Street building up to scratch, with fresh paint and a new air-conditioner - Mr Green couldn't thank them enough.
"We initially approached Neville Ivey from the council, he was very keen to help us," he said.
"They've just about rebuilt that building."
The committee in charge of the centre, with members from the three organisations, is looking for the final funding push to install an accessible toilet in the building.
Having other veterans as volunteers will help begin conversations as well, Mr Green added, because it's easier to relate to people that have been through the same experiences.
"You all know the same stuff and the same sort of things," he said.
"There's camaraderie right across the ADF.
"And it's for their families too, if there's someone's partner or child is having an issue with the loss of a parent, or their parent's disability, we can link them into places."
The centre will be at 41 Barkly Street, next to the BGT complex.
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